Jun 13, 2008 | Comments 0
Unfortunately a platform for discussion and communication doesn’t exist in Arpdom. The Associate Reformed Presbyterian magazine no longer has a “Letters to the Editor” section. The Highroad is financially strapped and infrequently published.
With the advent of computers and internet, e-mail opens the door to both instant communication and the wide circulation of ideas at little cost.
I’m not an editor and my eyes limit me but I do have the time and desire to provide a forum for communication and sharing ideas. I’m attempting an e-mail newsletter for ARP ministers and others so that those who wish may share ideas and news theologically and ecclesiastically.
Please don’t expect much that is artsy or cute. I don’t know how to do that. My focus is on information and ideas. I hope you will join me in my desire for a forum that encourages debate of the issues that are important to us. This forum I call ARPTalk.
The way ARPTalk works is simple:
You are an ARP minister and presently you are on my mailing list. I will remove your address if you desire. I hope no one does. Whether we agree or disagree we need to talk.
I hope to produce ARPTalk at least every other month. Certainly there is going to be an after Synod edition.
I will introduce topics.
I will attach relevant articles.
Though all e-mail replies will not be forwarded, e-mail replies that are different from my opinion will have the highest priority.
The first issue of ARPTalk is a pre-Synod issue. Attached are two articles: (1) The Divine Spiration of Scripture – A Review by Dr. J. R. de Witt, from the Banner of Truth; and (2) a paper by Mark Wright, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield: The Defense of the Word of God Written. I think you will find these helpful.
Regrettably debate on the doctrine of Scripture has arisen in Arpdom and is likely to be heard again on the floor of General Synod. There are at least three reasons for this. The first reason is the reaction of Rev. Ed Fleagle to what he heard at the Calvin Colloquium in the spring and perceived to be a PCUSA, neo-orthodox incursion into the seminary through the John Leith chair. The reaction was such that Rev. Fleagle and his Session penned and forwarded a memorial to the spring meeting of First Presbytery. Though not adopted, the substance of the motion is presently before the Theological and Social Concerns Committee of First Presbytery. The second reason is the reaction (verbally and written) of ARP ministers/students to the Th. M. course ST 808, Seminar in Theological Hermeneutics, in which the theological formularizations of Karl Barth were put forth as the answer to liberalism and the corrective of evangelicalism (editor’s question – Why does evangelicalism need to be corrected on the doctrine of inspiration?). The third reason is the failure of the seminary administration and faculty to be forthwith in a simple, straightforward, signed, and distributed statement regarding the inspiration of Scripture as inerrant.
At the 1979 meeting of General Synod, Dr. Grady Oates made the motion that the General Synod go on record by affirming that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were “the word of God and without error in all it teaches.” The motion was passed and for 29 years has served as the position of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church on the authority of the Word of God. Generally, since 1979 this simple statement has been used by our Presbyteries as a statement affirming inerrancy. Usually in the procedure of examination questions regarding Scripture are phrased in such a manner so as to use the 1979 statement as an inerrancy statement, with inerrancy also being used and an examinee being asked if he affirms inerrancy.
With the question of neo-orthodoxy arising, perhaps the 1979 statement needs to be revisited and strengthened. I would suggest the following words:
The Bible only, being verbally God-breathed, is the Word of God written,infallible in all it teaches, and inerrant in the original manuscripts.
The language in this statement is used for a number of reasons historically and theologically. And please allow me to use a wide brush in my explanation.
The Bible, the Scriptures of the Old and Testament, is identified as the Word of God written according to the language of 2 Timothy 3:16.
The word “infallible” is used in the context of the seventeenth century discussions at Westminster. The magisterium of the Roman Church claimed to be the only infallible teacher of doctrine and practice. The Westminster divines affirmed the authority of the Scriptures, the necessity of the Scriptures, the perspicuity of the Scripture, the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and the priesthood of the believer and declared that the Scriptures were infallible in what they taught. Inerrancy was not before those divines since both the Westminster men and the Roman Church were agreed that the Bible was without error.
The term “inerrant’” arose from the debates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries between liberalism and orthodoxy. The issue involved not the Bible as infallible in its teaching but accurate in it communication of God’s message to man. An old term from astronomy was used to describe the nature of the Word of God written. Indeed the term that was used and is still used is inerrant.
Please note that the statement that I propose is short. Using a colloquialism, it’s in twenty-five words or less. I am suspicious of long definitions regarding the authority of Scripture. It’s my experience that when teachers of theology use pages to describe what they believe that obfuscation is being used to avoid plain meaning and hide heterodox views.
These are my thoughts; I certainly welcome your thoughts.
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